HOUSTON – Last season, under first-year head coach Wilmer Cabrera, the Houston Dynamo blitzed the league with their quick counterattacking style of play. But this year, they’re changing things up.
The Orange rode their counterattack all the way to the Western Conference finals before being disposed of by the Seattle Sounders. But entering 2018, Cabrera’s second year, the club knew it had to evolve its playing style to etch itself among the league’s best teams and to again make the playoffs in a tough Western Conference.
Eight games into the season, it’s clear this Dynamo team’s playing style — while still a threat on the counterattack — has plenty of other ideas on the pitch.
“We’ve been changing. This Dynamo team doesn’t look like the same Houston Dynamo as last year. We play better,” Cabrera said. “If we went through last year, 90 percent of the games that we played we didn’t have good possession because we were built to counterattack, but we’ve been evolving. We’ve been improving.
Evolving the team’s playing style takes time. Players need to adjust to different things thrown in their path.
LA Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid, whose side lost 3-2 in Houston on Saturday, agreed the Dynamo are not the same as last year. But beyond being a more possession-oriented team, Schmid points to another reason for the Texas side’s improved play this season.
“I think [midfielder Tomás] Martinez makes them more of a possession-based team,” Schmid said. “I think he helps them, but they’re also now in the second year of their project and they’ve been reasonably healthy, so [forwards] (Mauro) Manotas, (Alberth) Elis and (Romell) Quioto have played a lot of games together and they’ve been able to put the same lineup out week to week.”
While the Dynamo’s returning players have stepped up their game, new players are also being incorporated into the team this season.
Cabrera said he wants his team to have the possession but to do something with it, “possession of a purpose,” he calls it.
“To play soccer with the idea to attack, because at the end possession without a purpose doesn’t help us,” Cabrera said.
Houston takes it’s new playing style on the road as the Orange take on the Vancouver Whitecaps Friday night.